Monday, December 26, 2011

Birthday Collage Blossomed at the Women's Retreat

This is an annual tradition that I have taken to doing for my birthday. You know how you never want to throw away (well, at least I do) those precious birthday cards and personal comments from your friends? To save those, I have been doing a colorful collage from the cards to commemorate their thoughtful endorsements.

This year I'd saved a portion of the page to do my collage during my upcoming "Women's Journaling Alpine Retreat". I knew one of the exercises my brilliant tandem teacher, Jean Warren, was planning, the "Cut-up Memory Walk" would be perfect for my birthday process. So the instructions were to go outside, without notepad or camera, only your senses to focus on the diverse impressions nature offers up. Then, return to the workspace to replicate or comment with collage what you'd experienced outside. When I went outside, I settled upon a tiny plot of land, just down from the cabin and bordered by the parking lot. As I nestled in to observe, first I noticed the deep dark shadows that actually created the visuals of the rocks, then emerged an entire lil' ecosystem. There were ants and beetles busying between rocks and dirt, then, bees all among the blossoming flowers. As I buried my thoughts in this balanced, beautiful interaction, I began thinking of my loving, supportive friends who provide just such a thriving environment for my life. I saw the parallels and metaphors between this tiny Alpine world and my life. Just as I was memorized in deep appreciation and awe, I was brought back to the current moment with an intense aroma . . . our fabulous Chef Izzy Leas, was busy at work in the kitchen simmering a rich curry meal for dinner. My senses were fascinated . . . so this is the scene I took into the studio to depict in collage - from my birthday cards.

Creating items to combine for the collage was first. I began cutting up the cards, words or florals or shapes for shadows etc. I'd collected this delicate grass, with seeds still attached and (from a hike my hubby & puppy had taken for my actual birthday day) brought along the limey-colored moss. I worked up the rocks first with texture, and cut out shadows. Words cut in long, stem-like shapes became the stems for dancing flowers and from fabric I cut out the brilliant sun! It was a delicious frenzy of stuff . . . I'd also picked up this cool piece of bark that looked SO much like a fish - and that sparked the memory of some teeny lil' critters one of the fun participants, Cookie, had offered up to share - and one critter was a tiny fish. Looking thru the critters, I grabbed the fish and spied a moose. Ok, I'll add mountains and the moose too!!! Grief, now how could I add the curry floating thru the air - - ahhhhhhhhhh - - with golden yellow thread threaded thru the air. And - - WELLAH - I think I'm done with my "Cut-up Memory Walk"!

The remainder of my favored birthday card images traveled to the right, creating a segway over into the second page where I'd sketched my vision from an art showing I'd done the evening of my actual birthday day. It's an active, but memory filled page . . . and actually visually pretty satisfying.

Love to hear how you celebrate your birthday in your journal or painting . . .

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Kids in Creek ~ Playful Journal Page Demo

The was a fun assignment I gave myself. So, of course, I chose one of my favorite and most playful images. This happy image came from a combining of several photos from children playing in the Ashland Lithia Park Creek. I was doing a purely demo class, illustrating some of the techniques we'd be using at my upcoming Women's Journaling Alpine Retreat, hoping to entice anyone interested.

To prepare for the class, I did start early. I applied some "Light Molding Paste", a medium by Golden to add dimension to the upper green leaves (see the dimension in this angled photo?). With this product you can build up absorbant layers. I've never used more than one layer, since I'm primarily working in my journal, but it is fun, flexible and dries spongy yet, holds shapes. I tried to replicate some leaf-like textures in the upper left and top of the image.

I'd created the stamp earlier too, thinking "what would the children be playing with?". I loved the simplicity of the toy boat and specifically selected colors of joy and colors that would unite the entire double-page spread of my open journal. I did apply the stamps very last to my page, when I could see where my text ended and how much visual space I had.

When class finally conviened, I worked from the large blown up image, so the class could see from what I was working. First, I establish the whites, with my wax crayons, that are to be solid or rather scumbled in effect for the water reflections and some on the highlights of rocks. Next, I work in strong yellows to add glow behind the leaves and the brilliant colors of the clothing. While some of the yellow is still moist, I begin dropping in leaf colors in that Molding Paste area. Only when the yellow is dry do I glaze in delicate transparent layers of orange and pink of the children's outfits. And thirdly, I work up the water, it's reflections (cuz I already have those greens on my palette), rock detail and lastly, the final touchs to the wee-ones playing.

I loved the effect of everything together, feeling it absolutely represented the spirit I felt when I was watching those silly kids parade and play in the creek, coupled with the outrageousness of my Elinor page (see previous post). What you think?